Atlantic Ocean contains 10 times more microplastics than previously thought: Study

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News: A study published in Nature Communications has estimated the amount of microplastic pollution in the Atlantic Ocean and put it at 11.6-21.1 million tonnes.

Facts:

  • Microplastics: These are plastic debris smaller than 5mm in length or about the size of a sesame seed.
  • Sources: They can be divided into two main categories according to their source:
    • Primary microplastics:
      • Directly released in the environment as small particles
      • Main sources: laundering of synthetic clothes, abrasion of tyres through driving, intentionally added microplastics in personal care products for example microbeads in facial scrubs.
    • Secondary microplastics:
      • Originate from degradation of larger plastic objects such as plastic bags, bottles or fishing nets.
  • Effects of Microplastics:
    • Microplastics found in the sea can be ingested by marine animals.The plastic then accumulates and can end up in humans through the food chain.
    • Consumption of plastic by humans is harmful since several chemicals that are used to produce plastics can be carcinogenic.